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Payten rebuff forces rethink from Warriors

Warriors boss Cameron George says the NRL club is in no rush to appoint a permanent coach after first choice Todd Payten knocked back their offer.

George says the NRL club needs to establish if they are going to be based in New Zealand or Australia next season before looking to plan B.

Payten, the interim coach, announced on Monday night he would pursue the vacant North Queensland job as he wanted to remain in Australia with his father-in-law battling cancer.

Ex-Cowboys coach Paul Green, Nathan Brown, Anthony Griffin and Souths coach Wayne Bennett have all been linked to the role, but George wouldn’t comment on possible applicants.

He did rule out, however, revisiting options they’d already declined including former Manly coach Geoff Toovey and brothers Ben and Shane Walker.

George said COVID-forced circumstances meant they were in no hurry to appoint a coach after Payten’s rejection.

“People are asking me right now why it’s taking so long but the reality of the situation that we’re in, is that we can’t get people into this country and we’re even struggling to get our players back due to restrictions,” George said.

“Under those circumstances there shouldn’t be any rush.

“First and foremost we want to get the right outcome but secondly I don’t know what the next six months is going to look like – I don’t know whether this club is going to based out of Australia this year or based back in New Zealand.

“They’re all major factors to employing people.”

George said the offer was made a few weeks back to Payten, who took over from axed coach Stephen Kearney in June, with him mulling over his personal circumstances.

“We spoke to him about the coaching role and due to personal circumstances he withdrew from the considerations,” George said.

“We will continue to support Todd and his family.”

Payten will continue in the interim role until the end of the season or a permanent coach is appointed, leading the 12th-placed Warriors in their round-13 battle with Manly on Friday night.

He hasn’t been given any guarantees about the Cowboys position, which Green vacated last month, but has strong ties to the club after spending five years there as an assistant before shifting to the Warriors.

“There’s another opportunity that’s on the table. That is the Cowboys,” Payten told NRL 360.

“I’m not in any process at the moment, they’re just aware of my interest.”

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